Nanette “Nan” Zack
2004 Paragon Award / Synchronized Swimming
Nanette “Nan” Zack is the personification of the spirit of Synchronized Swimming, “The Sport for Life”, the title of her recollection and reflection upon sixty years of synchro. Perpetually involved as athlete, coach and judge her contribution speaks volumes to the benefits and enjoyment of sport.
Her synchro activity began in the 1940’s as she swam, in high school and college. Her mini-memoir notes the Illinois 1951 Association Outdoor Championship held in the Naperville quarry. She found unforgettable, the icy water, lack of underwater speakers and putting putty in her nostrils rather than using nose clips. Another exceptional event in 1951 was an indoor championship at the Illinois Athletic Club, which was televised in black and white to Chicago area aficionados.
Nurtured in the “hot bed” of synchro team development, blessed with several Chicago area teams, and synchro swimming sister Jermaine, she joined the famous Lakeshore Athletic Club in 1948. Her career continued at Wright College where she co-captained the team with men’s co-captain Bob Schmidt.
Decades of development provided an opportunity to excel in Masters competition with a gold medal triumph for Betty Gaitsch, Laverne Mason and Nanette in the trio. The success was followed by 24 gold, 11 silver and 6 bronze medals at Nationals and a gold in duet at the World Masters in 1992.
Nan’s coaching began in 1972 as she answered the call at Lattof YMCA and directed the Aqua Sprites. In the subsequent 25 years the Aqua Sprites excelled. The success culminated with Coach Zack honored as the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Coach of the Year, 1998.”
Victory is synonymous with Nanette Stavoe Zack and she truly merits the accolade of “Paragon”.